Concordia responds to the U.S. elections

University students mobilize in Montreal after Trump wins the U.S. elections

Since the results of the U.S. presidential election were announced, university groups, such as the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia) and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), have hosted events in opposition of the win of president-elect Donald Trump.

“When I say fuck, you say Trump!,” shouted SSMU president Ben Ger to the crowd gathered outside of Redpath Museum on the McGill campus on Thursday, Nov. 18. “Fuck,” shouted Ger. “Trump!,” shouted the crowd of about 20 students in response. “Not my president!,” Ger yelled back.


Concordia community members from all sides of the political spectrum react to the winning of Trump in U.S. presidential elections. Graphic by Florence Yee.

“After the election, I noticed that some of my friends supported Donald Trump,” said Charles Keita, a participant at the event, a McGill student and Florida resident. He said while this is not an issue, as a person of colour, it is concerning to see some of the statements his friends have shared in support of Trump. However, he mentioned there is a need for dialogue between both political spectrums.

“As a society, we should keep in contact with those with differing opinions because it’s the only way we can make the conversation continue,” said Keita. “By communication, we can still make a difference and that’s why we shouldn’t be silent—not today, not tomorrow—because our voices are needed.”

On the morning of the U.S. election, QPIRG Concordia announced a public community meeting to be held the following day, said Jaggi Singh, the programming and working groups coordinator for QPIRG Concordia. “There were more than 100 people who showed up—all of whom were in some way critical of or opposed to the policies of Trump and what Trump represents.”

There are plenty of reasons why Trump’s win would anger people and create fear, said Singh. “Trump is someone who ran a campaign on demonizing and marginalizing migrants,” Singh said, adding that he openly proposed to ban an entire minority group and bragged about sexually assaulting women.

SSMU president Ben Ger photographed outside of Redpath Museum on McGill campus following the Trump mobilization event. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Singh said there were many ideas put forth by community members to QPIRG Concordia, including monitoring hate crimes and using popular education to inform people about the policies being implemented, said Singh. Popular education is described as education aimed at empowering those who feel marginalized and encourage them through their learning to generate social change.

“Some people emphasized being able to [converse with] some people who might be empathetic to Trump’s ideas,” said Singh. “We, as Canadians in general, can’t live in this bubble. People just can’t be like, ‘Well I’m not that type of person so I’m just going to ignore them’—we need to engage people.”

Concordia journalism student Julian Krajewski, who is eligible for an American citizenship, said he feels QPIRG is not providing that opportunity to develop dialogue between the left and right, as he was banned from commenting on QPIRG Concordia’s first post-election “Resist Trump!” event on Facebook.

“I got banned from one of the events for just asking a question about my safety if I showed up in a MAGA hat,” said Krajewski, referring to his Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat.

“It sounds troll-y to them—I wasn’t trying to be troll-y. I was just asking what would happen if I showed up because, in their description of the event, it just says they are organizing to come together in resistance against the Trump movement.”

Student mobilize on McGill’s campus on Friday, Nov. 18. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Singh responded to The Concordian about the instance, stating the “Resist Trump!” community meeting was for people who oppose Trump and his far-right, anti-immigrant, racist and misogynist policies. “Julian Krajewski clearly supports Trump and openly expresses far-right, anti-immigrant views, so it makes no sense for him to join the group except to troll it,” said Singh. “He is, of course, free to set up a “Support Trump” Facebook group for people who share his views, or to try to organize a public debate about Trump.” Singh said he does not recall Krajewski trying to join the group.

“I have serious concerns about the safety of my ideas and my ability to openly express them in the very institution of our society that is supposed to house and encourage such discussions,” said Krajewski. He said the QPIRG members he has interacted with have treated him with hostility and unjustified skepticism and belittling. “The attitude that anyone who doesn’t [agree] with left-wing politics on campus needs to be resisted or ignored or excluded is the very same attitude that they are accusing Trump supporters of,” he said.

“There are definitely very quiet Trump supporters on campus. I’m definitely the most vocal that I’ve ever seen,” said Krajewski.

Krajewski said the Trump movement has been labeled as racist due to the media. Trump himself has been identified as a racist, a white supremacist and a misogynist, which Krajewski said is because the media attempted to find anything to portray him negatively, and denied manipulating video and audio footage of him. “In all his rallies, he has said ‘I want to help Americans, if you pay your taxes—doesn’t matter what skin colour, what gender you are,’” said Krajewski.

“Trump is the pro-American guy and he’s the first pro-American politician to actually have a chance to be elected [in my lifetime],” said Krajewski. “It was the great American resurgence, the way I see it. We’re going to have to see how it plays out.”

Protesters bear signs in protest of Trump on McGill’s campus. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Graham Dodds, an associate professor from Concordia’s political science department, offered his opinion on the U.S. election results, particularly on how Trump’s win will affect Canada-U.S. relations. He said, while it will not be like the “bromance” portrayed between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama, the US-Canadian relationship is more institutional than based on leaders and their political leanings. “Presidents and prime ministers come and go, but the strong Canada-U.S. relationship largely persists,” said Dodds. “Even though Trump might greatly strain the relationship, the relationship is strong enough that it will endure, hopefully.”

“Trump is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20. He is not perceived as the actual president of a huge segment of the population, so there’ll be protests,” said Singh. “I think it’s fair to say Montreal [will] join into those protests.”

Singh said Prime Minister Trudeau extended an invitation for Trump to come to Canada. “It’s fair to expect Trump to be in Ottawa or the Ottawa area in the early months of 2017,” said Singh.

Singh announced yesterday QPIRG will be visiting Ottawa if Trump accepts Trudeau’s invitation. Though the details have not been finalized, as Trump has not yet responded to Trudeau, QPIRG plans to mobilize if a visit from the future president is scheduled.

QPIRG Concordia will be hosting the next “Resist Trump!” community meeting on Nov. 23 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at QPIRG Concordia, at 1500 de Maisonneuve. If there are too many attendees, they will meet in the CSU lounge on the seventh floor of the Hall building.


It’s time we dump Mr. Trump

After a campaign of smoke and mirrors, it must be hard to defend him

I know you’re all tired of hearing about American politics and I didn’t plan to write an opinion piece on the matter leading up to Tuesday’s vote. However, last week, The Concordian published “Donald J. Trump is my personal choice,” an opinions piece so selective in its use of partial truths and logical fallacies it’s laughable. While I don’t have the space available to challenge every line I could contest, I’ll take some time to address a few of the most absurd arguments.

Let’s just start with the claim that Trump can, in any way, be a “peace candidate.” This view is unsupported and, frankly, ludicrous. Trump is the candidate who allegedly, during a meeting with a foreign policy expert, asked three times why the United States couldn’t use nuclear weapons, according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. He also clearly expressed his willingness to give more countries nuclear weapons and to use them in the Middle East and Europe during several interviews.

This indicates a willingness to use these weapons, which might stem from either a lack of understanding of the consequences of starting a nuclear war or a lack of concern for those consequences—and I’m not sure which is worse. Trump even said “I love war in a certain way,” during a campaign speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa almost a year ago. In that same speech, he said “I’ll bomb the shit out of them,” referring to ISIS, in order to clear oil-rich areas to get the oil for the United States. As the non-partisan fact checking group Politifact reported, Trump also expressed support for the war in Iraq—something he now regularly denies he ever said.

None of this even includes the fact that Trump said during campaign events that he’d be willing to target the families of suspected terrorists and use torture, including waterboarding. These are not the policies of a “peace candidate,” and to make such a claim is bordering on disillusionment.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

A team of journalists at Vox examined Trump’s statements about his foreign policy and found a common thread: he believes foreign policy needs to be tied to the US’s financial interests. “The problem is that foreign policy can’t be reduced to a question of dollars and cents,” they wrote, “and attempts to do so—even in the form of Trump’s bombastic campaign rhetoric—can do lasting damage.”

All this doesn’t even cover the level of domestic unrest that could emerge with Trump’s presidency. The encouragement of stop-and-frisk policies—which, as a 2013 court case in New York highlighted, can be abused and violate American’s fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure—are part of his “law and order” stance.

These policies are a continuation of policies which contributed to the U.S. having the highest prison population rate in the world, according to The Washington Post. It’s also difficult to see how breaking up families and kicking out more than 11 million undocumented immigrants with a deportation task force, as Trump has promised to do, is something that can be done peacefully or easily.

This isn’t to say that I think Hillary Clinton’s neoliberalist policies will move the world towards peace or cut down America’s military industrial complex. However, she has decades of experience and her stability in the face of international turmoil will allow her to guide the United States through the rough waters of international relations. The last thing we need is someone as unstable as Trump, who has shown repeatedly on his Twitter page that he’s quick to shoot from the hip without thinking of the consequences.  

On a quick side note, Trump’s immigration policy in particular is serving as a rallying cry for white supremacy groups across the country. Trump’s legitimization of racist rhetoric has contributed to a political climate where someone like former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon David Duke can openly run for the senate in Louisiana.

Trump has definitely amassed a questionable group of supporters to say the least. Take a look at the endorsement of Trump by The Crusader, a prominent white-supremacist publication. While Trump’s campaign has condemned the endorsement, it nonetheless serves as an example of how his rhetoric and policies appeal to a violent group of racist extremists.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

If those voting for Trump are unable to acknowledge or even question why he appeals to such people, they (no matter how unwillingly) contribute to legitimizing these deplorable groups and what they stand for.

Now, onto the claim that Trump is somehow “pro-ethics.” It’s true that his policy puts forward some measures to fight for term limits and push back against lobbying in Washington. However, it doesn’t hide the fact that he runs a large company which is a massive conflict of interest, one which I find more of an issue than any potential conflict critics have pinned on Clinton.

This is especially troubling since, according to Newsweek, he’s given three different answers about the fate of his company and finances should he win, none which properly separate him from those conflicts of interest.

After refusing to release his tax returns, it’s difficult for voters to know if he has ties to Russian financial institutions. However, an investigative report by Slate magazine revealed regular email communication between Trump email servers and the servers of Alfa Bank, a Russian bank established in the 90s.

Last week’s article took a narrow view on ethics, only looking at financial conflicts of interest of the candidates. It’s much easier to defend Trump based on his claims that he’s taken less money from special interest groups, but even if it were true that’s really the only ethical high ground for a candidate who has repeatedly behaved disgustingly during the campaign.

I won’t waste too much space elaborating on Trump’s degradation of women, people with disabilities, journalists, judges and other politicians. And I would need a separate article just to list the number of people he’s refused to pay for their work—such as Larry Walters, the owner of a Las Vegas drapery company interviewed by the Wall Street Journal—or his hypocritical exploitation of undocumented workers as reported by Slate. I think it’s clear ethics and Trump don’t mix.

I have two more brief points to cover. First, arguing that Trump isn’t a misogynist (despite overwhelming evidence which suggests otherwise) because he supports paid maternity is simply outrageous. Even if supporting paid maternity leave was sufficient to say someone wasn’t a misogynist, he has a lifetime of comments and actions—including his comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and his hot mic comments with Billy Bush—which say otherwise.

And second, trying to use Clinton’s gay marriage flip-flop to paint her as an immoral candidate is embarrassingly laughable, considering Trump’s running mate said same-sex marriage is causing a “societal collapse,” according to Time magazine. Pence has even advocated for conversion therapy, according to Politifact.

It’s a shame that I have to spend all of this space rebutting this deplorable defence instead of actually focusing on a campaign between two candidates and how they could better the lives of Americans and the world.


Why I think America needs Hillary Clinton

Exploring the possibility of electing Mrs. Clinton

While I was watching the third and final presidential debate in a downtown Montreal bar, one of my friends texted me: “Who’s winning?” I responded that the ultimate winner was cynicism. Although I am not enthusiastic about the Democratic nominee, I believe America needs to elect Hillary Clinton.

Most Canadians care about American politics as much as they care about their own. “Geography has made us neighbours, history has made us friends, economics has made us partners, necessity has made us allies,” John F. Kennedy once said in a speech. It seems, this year more than ever, as election day closes in, many Canadians are most interested in knowing how this reality TV-like campaign will end.

The two candidates’ personalities and past actions have undeniably stolen the show away from party policies. It is evident to me that we need to think of nominees as leaders of their own movement before leaders of their party. In fact, many Republican members of Congress have said they will vote against their nominee, Donald Trump, according to a report published by the American news outlet, The Daily Beast.

For the last month or so, we’ve been preoccupied with the three presidential debates. Although it allows candidates to expand on their values and ideas, I believe its main purpose is to reveal their demeanours their attitudes toward opposition. From this perspective, Trump proved to be downright unfit to be president. His condescending tone, his odious claims and his constant attempts to interrupt both his rival and the mediator spoke volumes about the kind of leader he would be.

The question I always ask myself when analyzing political ideas is fairly straightforward: does the candidate, or the party, advocate for equal treatment of every individual? Trump, for instance, claims that America needs his kind of thinking, which allowed him to turn the money inherited from his father into an enterprise worth billions of dollars. Reaganomics—economic policies introduced by President Ronald Reagan—proved marginal tax reductions to be successful for improving the middle-class quality of life.

However, I don’t believe that being lenient with corporations and the wealthiest citizens, banking on them to make it rain on the middle-class, is the right thing to do for a fairer country. Trump is offering a short-term solution, whereas Clinton aims to attack the loopholes in the corporate tax system and to implement regulations that ensure multi-billionaires pay not only a reasonable share, but also fair surcharges. Given that some corporations and individuals make more money than they spend, while some other are unable to live a decent life, there’s no way to make America a better place if there is no will to ease the greed.

Although Clinton is only a mild progressive, she appeals to me because Bernie Sanders’s ghost constantly follows her. The former Democratic candidate said in a video interview for NowThisNews, that he believes in about 80 per cent of Clinton’s platform. He encourages everyone who took part in his movement to stand up and ensure Clinton realizes this 80 per cent of the platform. I’m confident Sanders’ supporters won’t give up their cause.

Personal attacks between the two candidates have gotten slightly out of hand lately. Both of them have been involved in multiple scandals. I do not hold either of them in such high regards for that matter, though I’m aware there are wild manipulations from both parties’ establishments.

To be frank though, if I were American, I would rather have a president who does “politics as usual” and hides things from the population than a president who’s a complete misogynist. We tend to forget that there’s a large structure behind the president who, although it is theoretical, will ensure the transparency of a possible Clinton government. Because the president is America’s face, I worry more about Trump’s perpetuation of rape culture than Clinton’s little secrets.

My position pro-Clinton ultimately lies in her apparent perception of the American Way and the American Dream. Unlike Trump, who believes in equal opportunities for everyone to stamp on their fellows to get rich, Clinton claims she’ll advocate for equal opportunities for everyone to live a decent life, no matter where you come from. My trust in her has, of course, diminished, especially the since the Clinton Foundation donations, which question her ethic. Yet, I can’t not support her, given that Trump goes against everything I stand for in terms of fairness.

Moreover, The Democratic Party Platform plans to fight for women’s, LGBT and disabled people’s rights. Republicans have this frustrating propensity to want to impose their beliefs on everyone, especially when it comes to LGBT and abortion rights. Donald Trump has not held a consistent discourse regarding his views on same-sex marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign. From this perspective, it would be no accident that he chose Mike Pence for Vice President running mate. Pence “has been an outspoken opponent of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens,” according to a report from the Washington Post.

Hillary Clinton is far from being an ideal candidate. But given the other option, I do think she needs to be the next president of the United States. As I consider the polarization of voters that will lead to an inevitable dissatisfaction, I hope to see a government that will be concerned with economic fairness and social justice.


Donald J. Trump is my personal choice

A look into the Republican candidate’s policies before next week’s election

Bill Clinton’s job approval rating reached 73 per cent, his highest recorded, after his infamous sex scandals and impeachment. Clearly this, and numerous unconfirmed sexual assaults, have not stopped him from being beloved for his policies.

Policy is what matters in an election, not whether or not candidates are good people. Neither candidate is a good person, so from here we must discern whose policy is better. The clear answer is Trump’s.

Trump is the peace candidate. People claim he’s divisive and dangerous, but Clinton’s policies have politicians fearing World War III. And no, I am not being hyperbolic.

Clinton doubled down during the third debate on her plans to enact a no-fly zone over Syria and establish safe zones for Syrians. According to The Guardian, many military personnel feel this would likely lead to an air occupation and open conflict with the Russians, who were invited into Syria by President Bashar al-Assad. Some believe it could lead to nuclear war.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the end of Cold War, said the situation has “reached a dangerous point.” After the Kremlin stated it would shoot down Western aircrafts, Gorbachev told the Russian news agency, RIA Novosti: “We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake.”

Trump sees Russia as the powerful nation it is. He has repeated throughout the debates that he wants to sit down and negotiate with Russia and come to a diplomatic solution.

“It’s actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump’s, who does not want to go to war with Russia,” said U.S. Green Party candidate Jill Stein during an interview with the American television network, C-SPAN. “He wants to seek modes of working together, which is the route we need to follow.”

Such radically interventionist policies make Clinton a rehash of neoconservatives like George W. Bush. Trump’s outlook on interventionism, outlined in his book Crippled America advocates helping out only if countries can reimburse the U.S. This should be music to people’s ears.

Trump is also pro-ethics and transparency. In an Oct. 18 press release, he promised a constitutional amendment imposing congressional term limits, banning executive officials and members of Congress lobbying for five years, expanding the definition of “lobbyist,” banning former executive officials from lobbying for foreign governments and banning foreign lobbyists from interfering in American elections.

Hillary’s ethical stances simply do not stack up. Although Clinton has said she wishes to expand the definition of “lobbyist” and has historically supported a two-year ban on former government servants taking jobs at companies they oversaw, her relationship with lobbyists is far more concerning than Trump’s.

The Washington Post reported that Clinton’s campaign has received $7 million in donations from federally registered lobbyists, while Trump’s campaign has received no such money. Lobbyists raised an additional $2 million for the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee with the DNC. That’s a lot of owed favours.

WikiLeaks revealed that Clinton participated in the unethical campaign financing that Trump wishes to ban. Clinton advisors took contributions of questionable legality from foreign lobbyists registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to The Daily Caller. Her campaign accepted such donations based on donors’ relationships with the State Department during Clinton’s tenure there.

Her campaign may have used American lobbyists to launder this money, according to WikiLeaks. Campaign staff admitted in the leaked WikiLeaks emails that donors have pushed policy change onto Clinton. That should be terrifying—she can be bought. Trump, however, is not beholden to the same expectations from lobbyists.

Clinton is corrupt. WikiLeaks showed she took money in exchange for favours from both Morocco and Qatar, using the Clinton Foundation, while she was Secretary of State. These countries have awful human rights records, as both jail homosexuals and allow marital rape, according to Human Rights Watch. This shows she cannot be trusted to put American interests before hers or foreigner leaders’.

While we cannot verify the full authenticity of the WikiLeaks leaks, they raise disturbing questions regarding Clinton’s ethics.

Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies, while viewed as promoting inequality, put Americans first. Clinton’s policy, to deport only violent illegal immigrants, would be completely unfair to Americans who’ve attained citizenship legally.

The American Immigration Center explained while wait times for citizenship vary, a person moving to the U.S. can wait upwards of six years before being granted citizenship.

There would be few incentives to obey immigration law in Clinton’s America. The Center for Immigration Studies found that over 2.5 million people entered the U.S. illegally since President Obama took office—an average of about 350,000 per year. Amnesty can only make this number go up. Protecting your citizens, laws and sovereignty is not racism.

Trump’s immigration plan would also benefit current American citizens. The Federal Reserve found youth decline in employment is linked to unskilled, immigrant labour.

Trump plans to create a resumé bank for inner-city youth to help replace jobs made available by the removal of illegal immigrants and the elimination of the J-1 visa program. Trump claims this would greatly help Americans in disenfranchised communities, including many predominantly black communities.

Many accuse Trump of misogyny. While he has said things others deem offensive, it is also worth noting he is campaigning for paid maternity leave. Trump has been accused of being out for the rich, but has proposed a huge tax break on lower-income families, allowing families with a combined income of up to $50,000 to pay no taxes.

Clinton is not the moral candidate. Those siding with her for moral reasons forget she flip-flops on progressivism. Clinton was an opponent of gay marriage until 2013, according to PolitiFact. Some leaked Podesta e-mails imply she still privately holds this view.

Both candidates have scandals, from “locker room talk” to illegal e-mail servers, and neither of these candidates are clean choices. But Clinton’s corrupt, war-hungry policies make it is clear that Donald J. Trump is the candidate to elect. His pro-American policies will Make America Great Again.

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